Traffic Congestion

Traffic is a band that never made it on my radar. I Liked Blind Faith, Spencer Davis Group and Steve Winwood’s solo offerings but I always ignored this other band. I believe the problem was I didn’t know how to process what I was hearing, is it psychedelic folk music with R&B thrown in for good measure? Jazz meets rock? Polite, English grammar rock? Even some of the band members had trouble reconciling which direction they wanted to go with their music, which is why Dave Mason took an off-ramp early on. (it was either that joke or saying he left in a roundabout way!) But Traffic was a band loaded with talent with several potential leading voices (which may have been the problem) so they put the pedal down to make several good records that have been mostly ignored by my (MTV) generation. Winwood most assuredly sold more copies of Back In The High Life and Roll With It in the U.S. then probably all of the Traffic albums combined. (I have no facts to back that up, it’s a hunch) The nature of the eclectic sounds coming from their records is hard to grasp if you are expecting mainstream AOR/pop songs that Winwood and Dave Mason are more known for and the variety can be enjoyable or annoying depending on your tolerance. Plus, they sound very English at times, which is a fickle sound for us on the other side of the pond. I still don’t get their version of football but the tea is fantastic.That’s how I approached their two most known albums John Barleycorn Must Die and The Low Spark of High-heeled Boys. I had the averse, football like reaction the first time I listened to Barleycorn, too English folk for me. But I warmed to Low Spark which sounded like Cream lite at first then I started to appreciate their sound(s). They were a band unafraid to explore every aspect of the sounds they were hearing and turned it into some compelling music. Traffic is still not one of my favorite bands but I do keep coming back to visit them and may someday park one of their CDs in my car stereo. I could listen to one of their extended jams while sitting in a commute to work parking lot mess, at least it would help against road rage.


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